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Wednesday, July 02, 2003
Shallow people go off the deep end
I learned to swim at the town pool when I was about 5. I remember paddling around with the kickboards and also getting water in my ears, but my most vivid memory of the lessons is being forced to jump off the diving board into the deep end of the pool. The instructors stood at the side of a pool ready to extend a long pole I could grab on to if I panicked and started to drown. My fear of the deep end was largely psychological; I couldn't touch bottom in the shallow end, either. But fear is fear, and it was usually the pole for me.

When I got a little older, even after that traumatic formative experience, I grew to appreciate the deep end. So now, when I read a line such as this:

The old-style "drowning pools" won't be missed, said aquatics expert Tom Griffiths.

I immediately look for a cup of coffee so I can take a sip and spew it all over my monitor in shocked surprise. "Drowning pools"? "Won't be missed"? "Aquatics expert?" Halle Berry full of grace, what in the heck is wrong with people today?

In case you haven't yet read the article I am mocking, here's a summary: People were getting hurt jumping off diving boards in municipal pools, so the boards were removed. So fewer people used the deep end of the pools. So now the deep ends are being filled in:

Philadelphia has been filling in its deep ends over the past several years, said Terri Kerwawich, the city's aquatics coordinator. After filling in two more this spring, the city has only 10 deep ends left at its 86 pools. All but one or two will eventually be filled in.

The article quotes various aquatics experts and coordinators (who the heck knew such people existed?), along with a soccer, I mean swimming, mom who all praise the new shallow designs. They're "safer" and more "family-friendly" and yes, even "interactive" (you know, as opposed to the old pool designs that allowed no interaction whatsoever).

Well, screw friendly interactive family safety if it's come to this. Let aquatics busybodies build themselves a safe little padded cell on a safe little island away from the people in the world who want to live. Give me my childhood of deep ends and merry-go-rounds and Big Macs and pointy chess pieces and un-car-seated car trips to Florida.

(But I'll take today's adolescence. That sounds fun.)

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